Why looking for a new job is sabotaging your search for a more fulfilling career
If you’re looking for ‘daily meaning as well as daily bread’, read on!
Our first instinct when we’re unhappy at work is to look at online listings to see what’s ‘out there’. I’ve done it myself – old habits die hard! I suspect you’ve done it too.
But why is this actually taking you in completely the wrong direction? There are a few reasons, but I want to focus on just two.
1. You’re seeking a job – not a fulfilling working life
It’s natural to start by looking for what you know you can do now rather than thinking about what you actually want from your career. WHY you work, what drives you and what will fulfill you – these questions open up a much deeper exploration.
If you’re looking for fulfillment in your career, quite a few things have to line up:
+ Your values
+ Your purpose
+ Using your strengths
+ Doing work you love
When you have clarity about these – and about what you want your working life to look like (which is probably already expressed in your highest values), you’ll be able to explore future career options from the perspective of fulfillment rather than merely existing.
This is why these 4 elements are at the heart of my Quickstep Career Change Programme and also provides the solid ground to explore a whole range of career problems that my Career Clarity Call clients bring.
So what are you hoping your work will do for you?
In her best-selling book GRIT, Angela Duckworth talks about different ways of looking at your work:
A job (I view my job as a necessity of life, much like breathing or sleeping)
A career (I view my job primarily as a stepping-stone to other jobs)
A calling (my work is one of the most important things in my life)
(Angela Duckworth, GRIT, p 150)
Duckworth also references Studs Terkel, a journalist who interviewed a wide range of professionals about their work. While only a small minority could say they viewed their work as a ‘calling’, he concluded that this wasn’t for want of trying. All of us are seeking:
That slow death may sound dramatic, but I know there are many people in work right now who would recognize ‘a Monday through Friday sort of dying.’ I hope that isn’t you.
I have experienced this state myself and have had to uproot myself from security, stability, regularity and safety from a couple of roles during my career because they were slowly sucking the life out of me. In each case I knew I had to face the upheaval of a career change if I was going wake up, be true to myself and express what really mattered to me. When I knew my values and had done the work to bring my purpose, strengths and deepest interests to light, I was then in energizing and motivated space to create something more fulfilling!
If you’d like to dig deeper into your strengths, doing what you love, and your purpose, read on here.
2. Seeing only what’s in plain sight
Another reason why looking for a job is a bad bet when you’re actually seeking fulfillment, is that you’ll only find what’s being advertised. I know that’s stating the obvious, but do you know that many wonderful jobs never reach a jobs board, recruitment agency or a company web site?
Welcome to ‘the hidden jobs market.’
In this space, recruiters approach their contacts, discuss an upcoming position with people from their own network and known professionals in that space. It’s so much easier, cheaper and some would say offers the greatest chance of finding a great fit for the role if the position can be filled from a known candidate before it’s even advertised! Has this happened to you?
So how can you open this space up and become the person who comes to mind to fill a new position? Some will call this networking! Career writer and author of ‘How to get a job you love’ John Lees explains that the results of having a strong network include ‘your name comes up when you’re not in the room.’ And for this, you have to be known and very visible.
This might include building a great group of connections on platforms like LinkedIn, joining local and (inter)national professional organisations, offering advice or information in online groups you’re part of, talking to people about your work at events (not just networking events), or attending relevant conferences. All of these will bring you into contact with people who might just be the best contact you’ll ever make.
At least one of my own career changes was the result of a chance conversation with a fellow delegate in a conference lift. It happens!
In career theory this is called ‘Planned Happenstance’ and involves preparing yourself to make the most of chance encounters. I’d just completed training to become a career guidance practitioner and was attending a conference on this very subject when I stumbled across magic in the form of a new contact. This key person told me their university was just about to advertise a career service manager opening and would I be interested in coming in ‘for a chat’?
Three weeks later, I was offered the job – which had never been advertised. I stayed in that role for four years and built a strong foundation for my subsequent careers work. Thank heavens I attended the conference on that particular day and started a conversation in a lift!
‘The harder I work, the luckier I get.’
(attributed to almost every famous person ever!)
Time for a chat?
But you can also be very much more strategic than this and set up what some people call ‘coffee chats’ or ‘Informational Interviews’ to learn more about specific careers you might be considering. By having a conversation with someone already in that role, you can gather some really useful insights into current trends, industry challenges and what the daily work actually involves. At the same time, you are potentially creating a supportive relationship – and advocacy.
This tactic involves a bit of courage and some simple courtesies to ensure you don’t leave a bad impression – we all know how busy working life is so you won’t want to overstay your welcome. I’ve written a detailed guide to building Connections and staying in touch with your contacts, which you can see here. If you follow the protocols and build a systematic strategy, you’re opening up to both new knowledge and potential opportunities.
And the golden rule for these conversations? Don’t ask for a job!
I have two final questions for you:
1. Are you looking for a job or a fulfilling career?
2. What can you do today to start building the working life that’s true to who you are today?
Good luck planning your happenstance!
Image credit: Katerina Kerdi via Unsplash